Capitol Updates

CAPITOL UPDATE – May 17, 2019

 

Classroom Safety Bill Scheduled for Debate

On Tuesday, May 21, there will be action regarding LB147, Sen. Mike Groene’s bill regarding student discipline and classroom safety. The NSEA Government Relations Team has worked diligently with education and child advocacy stakeholders to hammer out compromise language on LB147 that promotes a safe school environment for all students and school personnel. The new language in AM1750, which is a full rewrite of the original introduced bill, will be discussed on Tuesday.

There are two primary components to AM1750; the first would allow school personnel to use physical intervention to safely manage the dangerous behavior of a student until the student is no longer a danger to themselves, or others. AM1750 states:

“Administrative, teaching, and other school personnel may use reasonable physical contact to protect a student, school personnel, or another person from imminent physical injury. Reasonable physical contact shall only be used for as long as necessary to protect the student, school personnel, or other person from imminent physical injury.”

The second component would require school districts to have a publicly available policy on how and when a student can be removed from and returned to class and the need to provide instructional or behavioral interventions:

“An administrator or administrator's designee shall immediately remove a student from a class upon request by a teacher or other school personnel if such teacher or other school personnel has (a) followed school policy in requesting the removal of such student and (b) such student's behavior is so unruly, disruptive, or abusive that it seriously interferes with the learning environment and the opportunity or other students in the class to learn.

When a student is removed from a class, the goal shall be to return the student to the class as soon as possible after appropriate instructional or behavioral interventions or supports have been implemented to increase the likelihood the student will be successful. For students with patterns of disruptive behavior, schools shall provide additional interventions or supports.”

Teachers and administrators must work collaboratively to develop and maintain a safe and healthy learning environment in every school and classroom.

ACTION NEEDED! It is crucial that state Senators hear your personal stories of concern regarding student safety and disruptions to learning due to student behavior. YOUR VOICES are crucial to this bill moving out of committee. Please contact your State Senator and the members of the Education Committee with your personal story about discipline issues you’ve had in the classroom and how LB147 with AM1750 would help.

Sen. Mike Groene, Chair: mgroene@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Tom Brewer: tbrewer@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks: ppansingbrooks@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Rick Kolowski: rkolowski@leg.ne.gov 
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan: llinehan@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Adam Morfeld: amorfeld@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Dave Murman: dmurman@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Lynn Walz: lwalz@leg.ne.gov

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY!

Email Your Senator to Support LB147

Call State Senators and Voice Your Support

 

Incentive Program Would Jeopardize State’s Budget

LB720, by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman, would adopt the ImagiNE Nebraska Act and provide tax incentives for businesses. It is likely up for continued floor debate in the Legislature early next week. Its implications for the state budget and workforce development are significant!

The bill is an expensive incentive program that would jeopardize the state’s budget in the FY22-FY23 biennium. Currently, there is predicted to be a $140M surplus for the FY22-FY23 biennium. This assumes 5.2 percent and 5 percent revenue growth during the two years of the biennium, respectively.

Since ImagiNE Nebraska is predicted to cost a total of $126 million over that biennium that would leave only a surplus of $14M. This is a very small cushion considering that the 5.2 percent and 5 percent revenue growth projections are most likely optimistic. And, it is likely that ImagiNE will exceed cost predictions as previous incentive programs (Nebraska Advantage and LB775) have done. In short, now is a very risky time to implement an expensive new incentive program!

The NSEA strongly opposes LB720! There are other ways to promote workforce development and economic growth. Incentives should not come at the expense of other, more effective investments. Public education, transportation, the arts, and broadband infrastructure all improve quality of life and make Nebraska a great place to raise a family. Unfortunately, the fiscal demands of the proposed incentives threaten the fiscal health of the state and could result in cuts to other vital services and investments!

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY!

Call and Email Your State Senators and Voice Your Opposition

 

Tax Credits for Private Schools Stalled for the Year

On Monday, Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan's tax-credit scholarship bill, LB670, had its floor debate. Senators from across the state spoke out in strong opposition and successfully filibustered another effort towards school privatization.

Click YouTube video here. Click news article here.

This is an achievement worth celebrating! Nebraska remains one of only a handful of states without charter schools, vouchers, or tax-credit scholarship programs despite continued efforts to enact enabling legislation for such schemes. Public tax dollars should be directed to funding state priorities like public education, health care and essential infrastructure – not given away to benefit private school and their wealthy benefactors!

The NSEA is proud of the hard work by many this legislative session to protect our state's excellent public schools and advance public education in Nebraska. Please know your calls and emails made a difference. Thank you!

Thank you also to the many, many senators who listened to you and engaged in such a respectful and robust debate Monday afternoon. Together, we did it!

 

A Review of Education Related Priority Bills

The final legislative day for 2019, Sine Die, is scheduled for Friday, May 31. The two days following Memorial Day will be recess days. Thus, the week of May 21 will be the final days for general file and select file debate. All bills that are placed on final reading on Tuesday, will be read on Friday, May 24, allowing an opportunity for override motions on any bills that may be vetoed prior to May 31. The full list of senator, committee and speaker priority bills is available here.

FINAL READING

LB15 (Blood) Adopt the Children of Nebraska Hearing Aid Act

NSEA Position: Support

Requires that any individual or group health insurance policy issued or renewed in the state shall provide coverage for children which includes hearing aids and hearing aid related services. LB 15 caps the benefits paid for hearing aid items and services during the prior two-year period at $3,000. Health insurance plans may be exempt from the act for a plan year, if the cost of coverage will exceed 1% of all premiums collected under the plan.

LB675 (Groene) Change provisions relating to education

NSEA Position: Monitor

Makes numerous technical changes in statutes to eliminate outdated language, update terminology, and repeal outdated statutes no longer needed. This bill is the yearly education “technical amendment” or “clean up” bill that strikes outdated language in education-related statutes, updates terminology to reflect current needs and practices, and simplifies wording used in statutes related to special education to meet current needs and federal law. Committee AM 1308 revises TEEOSA by reducing the base limitation rate for school districts to 2.15% for school fiscal year 2019/20. The current rate for 2018/19 is 1.5%. The effect of this change would be to reduce the amount of increase in TEEOSA Aid provided by the state to school districts for 2019/20 and 2020/21. The growth for 2019/20 would be 6.3%.

SELECT FILE

LB183 (Briese) Change the valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land for purposes of taxes

NSEA Position: Oppose

Reduces agricultural and horticultural land values to 1% of its special valuation for school district taxes levied to pay principal and interest on bonds. would cause a significant shift of property taxes paid by agricultural and horticultural land to residential and commercial for bond principal and interest. This drastic of a shift in valuation for bond principal and interest would make it very difficult for many districts to pass bonds.

LB470 (La Grone) Provide a tax deduction relating to the Nebraska educational savings plan trust

NSEA Position: Monitor

Allow contributions by nonparticipant contributors and to allow an income tax deduction for the amount of the contribution. A “nonparticipant contributor” is defined as a person other than the participant who contributes to an educational savings plan trust account to meet qualified higher education expenses of the beneficiary.

GENERAL FILE

LB289 (Linehan) Change provisions relating to taxation of real property

NSEA Position: Oppose

AM1572 becomes the bill. An increase in state sales taxes by ¾ of a cent and raise a handful of other taxes to provide about $540 million a year in property tax relief. Also, would increase cigarette taxes by 36 cents a pack, to $1, and repeal tax exemptions on several items, such as candy and pop, and services like those provided by plumbers and movers, and veterinarian care for pets. Would take the state property tax credit and utilize it as state aid to K-12 schools. Extra revenue would boost state aid to schools by $540 million. The state aid would supplant local property taxes and provide at least 33% of the cost of K-12 education for every school district.

LB483 (Erdman) Change the valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land

NSEA Position: Oppose

Changes the valuation method for agricultural and horticultural land from a sales-based method to a productivity method. The new valuation will be used for both levy purposes and the calculation of TEEOSA. Amends provisions related to agricultural and horticultural land valuation and creates the Agricultural Land Valuation Board (ALVB). The bill could potentially have large impacts on school district finances for any district with agricultural or horticultural land. The tax base and TEEOSA will both be affected by this bill.

LB670 (Linehan) Adopt the Opportunity Scholarships Act and provide tax credits

NSEA Position: Oppose (held on General File)

Creates a scholarship program for students wanting to attend private schools in the state of Nebraska. Students may qualify if their families have gross income that is less than twice the reduced-price lunch threshold. Also creates an income tax credit for individuals, corporations, estates, etc. that contribute to qualifying organizations that grant scholarships for private schools. Designed to encourage contributions to private schools and allow funding for low-income families to enroll children in private schools.

LB720 (Kolterman) Adopt the ImagiNE Nebraska Act and provide tax incentives

NSEA Position: Oppose

Adopts the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. Provides for tax incentives for qualifying taxpayers at qualified locations meaning a location where a majority of business is: manufacturing; testing laboratories; administrative management of the taxpayer’s activities; logistics facilities; research, development, or testing for scientific, agricultural, animal husbandry, food product, industrial, or technology purposes; data processing, insurance transportation, or financial services; telecommunications services; data centers; production of electricity using renewable energy; information technology services.

IN COMMITTEE

LB147 (Groene) Change Student Discipline Act to provide physical intervention or removal for behavior

NSEA Position: Support

Permits a teacher or administrator to use necessary physical intervention to subdue a student until he no longer presents a danger to himself, the teacher or administrator, or other students. Permits teachers to remove a student who repeatedly interferes with the teacher’s ability to teach, or whose behavior is so disruptive that it seriously interferes with the class' ability to learn, or who commits other disruptive acts that are presently punishable in the Student Discipline Act. If the teacher does not consent to the student’s return, a conference is held with the parent or legal guardian, the teacher, and the principal within two days following the student’s removal.

LB288 (Linehan) Change income tax rates

NSEA Position: Oppose

Amends the income tax provisions of the Nebraska Revenue Act of 1967. The bill maintains the current brackets for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, subject to current inflation provisions, but changes the rates to unspecified rates. The bill maintains current corporate income tax brackets but changes corporate income tax rates to unspecified rates for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020.